Glenshiel, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland

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Parish # 67

This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of Glenshiel. To learn more about how to use these records to search for your ancestors, go to the Scotland: Research Strategies.

History[edit | edit source]

GLENSHIEL, a parish, in the county of Ross and Cromarty, 16 miles (S. E.) from Balmacara, in Lochalsh. The derivation of the name of Glenshiel is involved in obscurity, the original word being equally applicable to a "glen of cattle," "of hunting," or "of rain." The church, which is the first erected in the parish, was built in 1758, and is situated in the eastern part of Letterfearn; it was repaired, enlarged, and new-roofed in 1840, and accommodates 300 persons with sittings.[1]

The district of Kintail, which formerly constituted a parish of that name, was, about a century ago, divided into two parishes, to one of which the original name of the district is named, while the other is named Glensheil. There are different interpretations of the name Glensheil, namely; the glen of cattle (Glenshelibh,) of hunting, (Glenshelig,) or of rain (Glensshlidh,) any of which describes the locality.

The parish is bounded, on the north, by the arm of the sea called Lochduich, which divides it from the parishes of Lochalsh and Kintail, and the river Croe; on the east, by the parishes of Kiltarlity, Urquhart, and Kilmanivaig; on the south, by the parish of Glenelg; and on the west by the strait of Kylerea which divides it from Skye.

The nearest market town is Inverness, which is about 80 miles distance.

Of the history of this parish, little is known of an earlier date than the middle of the thirteenth century. About this period, Colin Fitzgerald, the founder of the family of Seaforth, received from Alexander III the governorship of Castle Donan in Kintail, in reward, it is said, of his conduct at the battle of Largs.

The whole lands of this parish, as well as of the neighboring parishes of Kintail and Lochalsh, were possessed by the family of Seaforth.

The population of the parish in 1801 was 710, and in 1831 the population was 715. Of interest of the people in the parish it is said that the male inhabitants have long been remarkable for the personal qualities of great size, strength, activity, and courage; the females, for beauty and gracefulness, and both for an extraordinary taste for the cultivation of poetry and music.

The parish church is situated near the eastern part of Letterfearn, and is about eight miles from the western extremity of the parish. It was built in 1758, being the first church erected in this parish. It affords accommodation for about 300 sitters. The whole inhabitants belong to the Established Church, with the exception of a few shepherds from the south of Scotland, who are seceders, and about 30 Roman Catholics.

This account was written November 1836.

Source: New Statistical Account of Scotland for Glenshiel, FHL book 941 B4sa, series 2, vol. 14.

The New Statistical Account of Scotland (pub. 1834-45) offers uniquely rich and detailed parish reports for the whole of Scotland, covering a vast range of topics including history, agriculture, education, trades, religion and social customs. The reports, written by the parish ministers, are available online at  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish you are interested in. Also available at the Family History Library.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

A census is a count and description of the population, taken by the government, arranged by locality and by household. Read more about census records.

Here is a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Glenshiel, as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

FHL Film Number
Surname Indexes
6037266 (6 fiche)
6086658 (4 fiche)

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on To use it, you must register and pay a small access fee. All available censuses, 1841-1901, are indexed on this website. It may be easier for you to pay to use the website rather than access the separate indexes through the library.

Church Records[edit | edit source]

The Established Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. Read more about church records.

Here are the pre-1855 records that exist for this parish.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers[edit | edit source]

Record Type Years Covered FHL Film Number
Birth: 1785-1854 0990583 item 2
Marriage: 1802-1854 0990583 item 2
Death: No entries none


Condition of Original Registers—[edit | edit source]

Index: For an index to these records, see Scotland’s People website, a pay-for-view website. The Scottish Church Records Index is also still available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Some records may also be indexed in other FamilySearch collections for Scotland.
Births:There are separate records of births for each of about twenty districts into which the parish was divided; only a few of them are prior to 1801. Most of them are irregular and incomplete.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. British Book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records
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The Kirk session was the court of the parish. The session was made up of the minister and the land owners and business men of the parish, chosen to serve on the session. The Kirk session dealt with moral issues, minor criminal cases, matters of the poor and education, matters of discipline, and the general concerns of the parish. Kirk session records may also mention births, marriages, and deaths.

Here is a list of the surviving Kirk session records for this parish:

Minutes with Accounts and Communion Rolls 1831–1948
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/1203.

Nonconformist Church Records[edit | edit source]

A nonconformist church is any church that is not the Established church. Read more about nonconformity in Scotland in the article on the Scotland Church Records Union List.

Glenshiel Free Church[edit | edit source]

A catechist was appointed to the district of Kintail and Glenshiel in 1852. The following year a church was built in Kintail, conveniently placed for people in both parishes. In 1858 these districts were placed under the care of the minister of Lochalsh. Owing to considerable accessions to the congregation at Glenshiel, a church there became necessary in 1864. The charge was sanctioned in 1866 and a minister was settled in 1867.
Membership:1868, 400; 1900, 14.
Source:Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details may be given in the source, including ministers

The extent of records is unknown.

Civil Registration Records
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Government or civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths (also called statutory records) began on January 1, 1855 in Scotland. Each parish has a registrar's office and large cities have several. The records are created by the registrars and copies are sent to the General Register Office in Edinburgh. Annual indexes are then created for the records for the whole country.

See the article on Scotland Civil Registration for more information and to access the records.

Probate Records
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Glenshiel was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Ross until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Ross & Cromarty. Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at You must register on the website but use of the index to probate records, called 'Wills & Testaments,' is free. You may then purchase a copy of the document or, if the document is before 1823, it will be on microfilm at the Family History Library. To find the microfilm numbers, search in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Ross & Cromarty and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Ross.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Ross & Cromarty. Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Ross & Cromarty and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846), pp. 499-514. Adapted. Date accessed: 30 July 2014.

Return to Ross & Cromarty parish list.